Orobanche uniflora

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I can’t say it better than it is stated in this NY Times article “There’s simply no way to talk about the beauty of Orobanche uniflora without raising a lot of eyebrows.”

Commonly called Naked Broomrape or sometimes Flowered Cancer Root this wonderful flower with unflattering common names was a new one to us when we came across it in meadow on a recent hike.

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It is a short leafless plant unable to photosynthsize thus gaining it’s nutrients by parasitism. Often using sedum, saxifrages and asters as a host plant. Typically growing only up to 3 inches tall we found this cluster buried deep in the grass.

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It is a beautiful little flower and very unique to say the least.

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Marbled Godwit:Limosa fedoa

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Marbled Godwits currently face pressure from habitat destruction in both their nesting grounds, the short grass prairies of the northern plains, and their wintering grounds, inter-tidal mudflats along the pacific coast. Prairies are being converted to crop land and mud flats being filled for development. It’s easy to forget birds sometimes need two intact ecosystems to thrive and protecting habitat is perhaps the single most important thing we can all do to protect the abundance and diversity of life on our planet. And who does not like both abundance and variety.

American Black Oil Beetle-Meloe americanus

Last week on our daily walks we noticed several of these black oil beetles along the road side and in the open fields near our home. They are very large and we were not sure what they were. A strange beetle or extremely strange ants?

Upon researching what we found we were amazed to find these are flightless Beetles with a truly fascinating life cycle.

Encyclopedia of life describes the lifecycle as follows:

“Oil beetles have fascinating life-cycles. The larvae are parasites of a number of species of ground-nesting solitary bee. Towards the end of spring, female oil beetles dig burrows in the ground close to colonies of host bees, into which they lay around 1000 eggs. These eggs usually hatch the following year in order to coincide with the emergence of the bees. The oil beetle larvae (known as tringulins) are very active, and climb up onto flowers where they wait for a host bee. They attach themselves to the bee, and if they are lucky and attach to the right type of species they will be flown to the host’s burrow, where the tringulin oil beetle turns into a grub-like larva, and develops, feeding upon the pollen stores and eggs of the host. The larva pupates and the resulting adult beetle spends the winter inside the host’s burrow before emerging the following spring.”

We think this female might have been building a nest to lay her eggs?

Piotr Nasckrecki wrote a wonderful article on them on his blog The Smaller Majority which is altogether fascinating.


While we saw several oil beetles last week we only had the opportunity to photograph one, which like the others, was constantly on the move but moving slow enough for us to photograph.

On the earth day earth.

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Although spring had a calendar date of March 20th we have had an extended winter and this year earth day was the day that felt like spring had actually sprung.

The sun had been out for several days in a row without a flake of snow falling and the temperatures were downright warm. The snow was receding at a rapid pace and the earth became exposed. Flowers were budding and blooming all of which were no more than several inches high.

The promise of spring seemed fulfilled at last.

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Flowers blooming with life inviting the early season pollinators in for a drink.

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Pine cones alive on the forest floor and glow in the morning light.

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Not more than an inch in height the flowers came in yellow and white.

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The state butterfly Nymphalis antiopa “Mourning Cloak” basks in the sunlight on a road which only a day or two ago was covered in snow.

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And then came the day after earth day…

Listening to shadows

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Listening to the light as it peeks into forests that were dark as night only weeks ago.

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Hearing shadows say a new season is on the way.

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Light and dark meet to melt creeks.

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With brighter light comes brighter shadows.

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Cold snow and warm shadows bring a treat to end the day.